Today is the third installment of our six-week “Manners from the Manor” series and Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, is sharing her dining etiquette tips. “Dining etiquette is important because by having good table manners you are showing respect to those you are dining with,” says Myka.
Myka is a dual American and British citizen who trained in London under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen, and has worked with members of the British Royal family. She also serves as official etiquette partner of Downton Abbey: The Exhibition. I am honored to welcome Myka to The Glam Pad!
Dining Etiquette by Myka Meier
Setting a Table
When setting the table, it’s important to set all of the necessary pieces guests will need to enjoy their meal, whether it’s a one-course breakfast or an eight-course dinner. Whatever the course, and however many courses there will be, place settings follow the same formula for American dining:
For your starter, main and other savory courses, forks are placed to the left of the plate. An exception is the oyster fork, which is set on the right side of the plate. Knives and soup spoons are set to the right of the plate. All silverware should line up at the bottom of the place setting.
The bread plate and butter knife are set to the left, slightly above the forks. Glasses are always set to the right, above the knives. The water glass should be set directly above the main dining knife. Don’t fill your water glass until your guests have been seated.
Napkins may be folded in any number of ways for decorative purposes. We recommend they are either placed on the plate, or under the fork. Never fold the napkin and put it in a water glass for your guests.
The above image is an example of a two-course meal, for lunch or dinner. You know it’s two courses because both a starter and main fork and knife are set. The starter and main dining plate are placed on top of a charger, and the napkin is set on top of the plate. Bread does not count as a course.
To the left, above the forks is a bread plate and butter knife, and the water glass and wine glass are set above the knives, on the right side of the place setting.
The above image is a formal table setting for a five-course dinner. You know it’s five courses based on the cutlery set. The first course will be oysters and the second is a soup. Then an appetizer course will be served, followed by the main course. Finally, you know that a dessert course will be served because the dessert fork and spoon are set above the plate. For formal dining, we recommend dessert cutlery be placed at the top of the plate.
A bread plate and butter knife are placed above the forks, and four glasses are above the knives for water, wines and champagne.
How to Hold and Use Cutlery
In American dining, it is common for one to hold their fork in their left hand, their knife in their right, cut a piece of food and then put the knife down, resting on the rim of the plate, and switch their fork into their right hand to eat.
In formal dining however, we recommend holding your knife and fork in your hands while eating, without switching.
To hold your cutlery correctly, balance the back of the knife (in your right) and fork (in your left) on your index fingers and wrap your other fingers around them. Then twist your wrists so the blade of the knife and prongs of the fork are facing down.
When dining, pace yourself. We recommend taking a break after a maximum of four bites. Whether you’re taking a break and leaving the table or taking a break and remaining in your seat you can signal to service staff that you’re not done with your meal by placing your cutlery in the “break” position:
Make an upside-down V shape with your fork and knife, with the prongs down and blade facing the left.
When you are finished with your course in American dining, place the knife and fork, with prongs up, together with handles resting in the 4 o’clock position. The blade should face the fork. This will let the server know you are finished eating and he or she can remove your plate.
When you are seated at a restaurant the first thing you should do is place your napkin on your lap. At someone’s home you should not place your napkin on your lap until the host or hostess sits and puts their napkin in their lap.
Here’s how to use your napkin:
Unfold the napkin completely and then refold it in half.
Place the napkin with the crease facing you so it opens by your knees.
When you need to use your napkin, bring it up to your face and open it. Dab your mouth and face, don’t wipe food stains into your skin. Then close the napkin so all food stains are hidden inside the napkin.
When you step away from the table during the meal, such as to use the restroom or take a phone call, pinch your napkin in the middle and place it in your seat. This will signal to waitstaff that you have not finished your meal and will be coming back.
When you have finished your meal and you’re leaving, pinch your napkin in the middle and place it to the left of your plate.
To learn more, check out Beaumont Etiquette’s Intensive Course at The Plaza Hotel on November 3rd! A discounted rate at The Plaza for the weekend of the course is available. You can also follow @mykameier on Instagram for ongoing tips, and stay tuned to The Glam Pad… Below is the timeline for our six-week “Manners from the Manor” series!
- Introduction: Meet Myka (09.26.18)
- Week 1: The Duchess Effect (10.03.18)
- Week 2: Dressing Etiquette (10.10.18)
- Week 3: Dining Etiquette (10.19.18)
- Week 4: Afternoon Tea (10.24.18)
- Week 5: Etiquette for Children (10.31.18)
- Week 6: Holiday Etiquette (11.07.18)